Artists’ Collections in the Archives: Digitizing Cleveland’s Artistic History | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker

By Sara Kunkemueller, Digitization Intern, Ingalls Library and Museum Archives

This summer, I joined the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives as a digitization intern. My function associated quite a few initiatives, from updating metadata to scanning guides for the Net Archive, but substantially of my time was committed to digitizing artists’ collections in the archives. The 1st supplies I scanned were being John Paul Miller’s sketchbooks.

Miller (1918–2013) was a renowned Cleveland jeweler. Getting graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), he returned just after Military assistance in Planet War II to join the school’s employees as a professor. At the exact same time, he began generating items for area jewellery shop Potter & Mellen. Though Miller was experienced in industrial style and put in his occupation concentrated on jewelry, he also harbored a deep really like for watercolor and generated both of those images of his travels and a selection of video clip resources. In the course of his tenure at the CIA, lasting much more than 40 years, he taught all these subjects. Miller’s get the job done has been obtained by several personal collectors as nicely as by the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) and the Renwick Gallery, amid other individuals.

Miller is known for his use of granulation, a strategy ideal acknowledged from archaeological jewellery. By way of the granulation system, small beads of metallic are affixed to a bigger form with out soldering. Miller utilized granulation to develop extremely difficult floor textures and styles. Concentrating on both of those geometric abstractions and sensible animal and insect forms, Miller’s use of granulation lends his body of do the job an total stylistic coherence, weaving a modernist aesthetic into purely natural surfaces. His sketchbooks are crammed with repetitive drawings, where Miller plays with the kind of the granulation sample. Due to the fact Miller’s sketches are relatively shut in dimension to his remaining goods, there are quite a few pieces in the CMA’s assortment, in the archives’ May well Display records, and in other artwork galleries that can be matched practically specifically to these webpages.

Excerpts from sketchbook 21, undated, John Paul Miller Assortment, Cleveland Museum of Art Archives
Gold and Enamel Pendant, Owl, c. 1955. John Paul Miller. Graphic 5562, Cleveland Museum of Artwork Archives. This artwork is known to be beneath copyright.

Miller’s sketchbooks augment his human body of operate with comprehensive notes on building, together with experimental notes designed in the workshop. Numerous are loaded with steel dust, and even little scraps of discarded gold, suggesting that they lived on his workbench and that styles had been topic to revision in the course of creation. In just one instance, Miller wrote out instructions for a quick movie pursuing the creation of just one of his parts, leaving driving a meticulous document of his process. Together with rates and other information, the inside covers frequently have a record of names or titles indicating which works of his were commissioned, developed for a particular exhibit, or manufactured in sequence. In sketchbook 19, there is also a lengthy handwritten insurance coverage appraisal detailing the trivia of a piece’s construction, from products to techniques. All of this is relevant to long term collectors and conservators of Miller’s work, but it also preserves his in depth expertise of metalworking and could potentially serve as a teaching help. Miller’s sketchbooks have a prosperity of info about his items, his instructing practices, and his personalized and professional interests.

All 32 of Miller’s sketchbooks are at present accessible on the CMA Archives’ electronic collections. Also available to see are in depth renderings of his rings and pendants, images from his outings to California and Antarctica, and photos of his performs from the May perhaps Show assortment.

The remainder of my internship targeted on the archives’ August F. Biehle Selection, composed largely of sketch components relating to many media and initiatives all through Biehle’s prolific vocation. A son of German immigrant and ornamental artist August Biehle Sr. (also represented in the digital archives), Biehle (1885–1979) was a Clevelander who contributed immensely to the city’s booming creative character in the early 20th century. Just after completing his art instruction in Germany, Biehle returned to Cleveland just as it was achieving its peak of artistic innovation and started functioning at the Otis Lithograph Organization. Around the course of his occupation, he manufactured outstanding adverts, murals, and paintings and turned just one of the most prominent Cleveland school artists.

Biehle was also a member of the city’s preeminent eclectic art corporation, the Kokoon Arts Club. He brought with him equally artistic talent and inspiration, obtaining seen an influential exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a German Expressionist team, in Munich in 1912. This knowledgeable Biehle’s personal modernist functions and, in flip, proved to be a stylistic affect for other club users. The archives’ assortment has a selection of Kokoon Club objects, including posters for club situations, publication components, and ticket models for the club’s famous and lascivious balls. The Kokoon Club allowed Biehle to experiment with his formal creative coaching, and the conversation involving the club’s flourishing modernists inspired him to delve into a range of variations, including the creating Art Deco and Cubism movements.

Kokoon club bal-masque ticket #337 and ticket stub, 1938, August F. Biehle Assortment, Cleveland Museum of Art Archives

Of specific note in the Biehle collection are sketch supplies relating to murals he created for quite a few infamous structures throughout the metropolis, like the Kokoon Club, the Hofbräuhaus, and Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Theatre Cafe. These mural sketches, frequently rendered loosely in gouache on paper or board, are putting not only mainly because of their beauty but also simply because pretty several visible data of the murals remain. The Kokoon club, for illustration, showcased numerous Biehle performs on its walls through its heyday. On the other hand, immediately after the club’s decrease and disbandment in 1956, Biehle’s murals were demolished with the developing. This is also accurate of his intensive perform in Pirchner’s Alpine Village, notably Biehle’s depictions of fantastical scenes and classic moments from opera and theater. His impact prolonged to the Eldorado Club over the restaurant, exactly where Pirchner hosted well-known visitors. In 1996, however, that framework was razed as perfectly. Though there are some photographic records made up of Biehle’s demolished mural performs, they are typically concentrated on modern society gatherings and the folks who frequented the spaces instead than on the artwork alone. The sketch renderings of Biehle’s murals are some of the very best remaining documentation of his presence throughout influential buildings in the metropolis.

Sketch for mural — opera cycle, “Siegfried” written in margin, for Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Theatre Restaurant, c. 1942, August F. Biehle Selection, Cleveland Museum of Art Archives

Beyond Cleveland, Biehle signifies a terrific encapsulation of the explosion of creative innovation in the early 20th century. Stylistically adventurous, Biehle’s interests shifted above the course of his vocation. He was a gifted attractive artist, obtaining apprenticed below his father, and his lithographs have been in immediate discussion with other critical advertisers of his age. Biehle’s industrial performs contain fantastic experiments of his peers’ creations, this kind of as various layouts for the Arrow Collar ads that built American artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874–1951) well known, as perfectly as several observational experiments that display the depth of his official teaching. Biehle’s prints were at the forefront of the change from Artwork Nouveau to Art Deco. In the afterwards sections of Biehle’s career, his paintings took on a hanging Cubist design and were being imbued with the dynamism of Futurism. His several talents make him an exceptional instance of the energy of Cleveland’s artistic scene at its top.

Biehle’s other do the job features a assortment of colorful painted landscapes motivated by Cubism. The CMA holds in its collection 1 this sort of portray as properly as works on paper by the artist. To see the Biehle selection on the internet, please go to https://digitalarchives.clevelandart.org/electronic/collection/p17142coll15.

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